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Salad is a generic term essentially used to refer to a mixtures of vegtables, fruits, meat, pasta, seafood etc. ideally consumed as a part of a meal. Usually made using raw vegetables, salads are known for their freshness and healthy properties. They are mostly served cold but some, like German potato salad are served warm. Salad recipes of innumerable varieties, which can be categorized as entree, accompaniment, palate-cleansing and dessert salads, are popular in different cuisines of the world.

History of Salad

Food historians have stated that about 2000 years ago Romans ate greens topped with dressing and so did Babylonians. Salads were popularized in the United States in the late 19th century. It was in the later part of the 20th century when other parts of the world had adopted salads as a part of their meals. Readymade salads are even sold in the markets in countries like America, China, Australia and Japan. Packaged salads are even sold by popular food chains like KFC and McDonald's.

Ingredients Used and Popular Methods of Preparation of Salad

Salads are made using a variety of ingredients depending upon their type. Popular salads include vegetable salads, salads of pasta, grains salad, fruit salads and mixed salads that have meat, seafood or poultry in them. Then, there are green salads that have leaf lettuce topped with dressing and garnishes including croutons or nuts.

Different types of Salad Garnish, Toppings and Dressings

Some popular salad garnishes include anchovies, nuts, bell peppers, parsley, crab meat, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, diced celery, croutons, sliced cucumber and sliced mushrooms. Other ingredients including seeds, cheeses and berries may also be used in green salads. Different varieties of cheese including blue cheese, feta cheese and Parmesan cheese are added to salads in the form of cubes and crumbles. Salads can be made visually attractive by adding edible flowers, carrots, colored peppers and red radishes to them.

Salad dressings are of three basic types:

• Vinaigrette- this is a mixture of vinegar and salad oil, enriched with herbs, spices and other seasonings. Other than being used as a dressing, it can also be used as a seasoning and also as a marinade

• Cream-based salad dressing – this is mostly made with mayonnaise, though sour cream, yogurt, cream fraiche, milk or buttermilk is also used for making it.

• Cooked dressings- cooked salad dressings are made of ingredients that are subjected to heat during the process of preparation. They resemble the cream-based dressings but are made of different ingredients and involve the usage of egg yolk as a thickening agent.

Types of Salads

Salads are not meant to be served at one particular time during the meal, they can be offered at any time. Appetizer salads – light salads, served as the meal’s first course in order to arouse the appetite. Entrée salads- entrée salads are ones that consist of beef slices or chicken breast and are served as appetizer salads. Caesar salad, Chef salad, Greek Salad, ad Cobb salad are some of the most popular entrée salads. Side salads – side salads are meant to accompany the main dish and play the part of a side dish. Palate-cleansing salads – palate-cleansing salads, as the name suggests, are served after the main course in order to settle the stomach. Dessert salads – sweet salad versions that contain whipped cream or gelatin are known as dessert salads.

Popular Salad Recipes

• Green Salad- it is one of the healthiest types of salads and is made of green culinary leaves such as spinach or lettuce. These nutritious leaves are lightly cooked to not lose their nutrients and are shredded into small pieces (convenient for eating) and tossed with seasonings and topped with different types of garnishes if desired. The leaves are also commonly served raw and arranged in different formats.

• Vegetable Salad – one of then most common and basic salads, this is made with a single vegetable or an interesting medley of a large number of vegetables. The vegetables that are commonly used are tomatoes, radish, cucumber, mushrooms onions, beets, artichoke hearts and avocado. Even cooked vegetables like boiled potatoes are included. A variety of beans like black beans and green beans are also used for making salads.

• Pasta, cheese, meat croutons– pasta and meat are used for preparing salads in the cooked form. They are cooked and combined with vegetables and seasonings. Cheese and croutons are a garnish of choice for many salads including vegetable, green, pasta and meat salad.

• Bound salads – unlike dry salads whose components can be picked up as dry individual pieces, bound salads are those that have pieces of the constituent ingredients stuck together with binding agents like mayonnaise, egg or cream. Pieces of tuna, chicken, pasta, cooked potato and egg, for example, are bound together with a binding agent. Bound salads can be scooped as one whole with an ice cream scoop and laid on the serving plate. The salad retains the shape of the scoop. Bound salads are a party favorite as they are conveniently prepared ahead of time and preserved. Health and Nutrition Facts of Salad Salads are considered very very nutritious. They are rich in proteins and calcium.

Miscellaneous Facts about Salad

• 30 pounds of lettuce are consumes by the average American consumer each year.

• Ready to eat salads were packaged successfully first in 1989.